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Sunday, December 12, 2004

More More More (How Do You Like It?)
So we were walking through Costco in Montclair, California this afternoon, and I was looking for the free samples. Unfortunately it was after 4:00pm, so all the good displays were already closed. We did, however, run into a woman handing out cups of something looking like a weak Tang.

Before I proceed with the story, here's a Tang question that someone or another submitted:

[Q] Can I use TANG® Drink Mix to clean my dishwasher?

[A] We have heard that some consumers have used TANG® Drink Mix to clean their dishwashers. TANG® does contain citric acid which can act as cleaning agent.

TANG® Drink mix is intended to be a food product and Kraft Foods does not advocate its use for any other purpose.

Back to the story, because the woman wasn't handing out Tang. She was handing out a mix of Zipfizz.

According to a brochure that was handed out along with the drink, Zipfizz is intended to be an energy drink to compete with Red Bull, Rockstar, Hansen's Energy, Gatorade, and similar products. Each of these drinks has their gimmicks, and Zipfizz has several:

  • Unlike the other drinks, you mix Zipfizz yourself. Just take a Zipfizz tube and add it to 16-20 ounces of water (for example, in a water bottle).

  • It advertises itself as featuring "a light sparking Citrus Surge!"

  • Unlike many of the other drinks, it doesn't have any artificial stimulants, flavors, or colors.

  • It is low calorie, because it uses the sweeteners Xylitol and Sucralose. (Some people don't consider this a benefit, but if you do, enjoy.)

  • It features two electrolytes: 100 mg of Magnesium, and 905 mg of Potassium.

  • Among its several anti-oxidants, it includes 33% of the percent daily value for vitamin E, and 833% of a percent daily value of vitamin C.

So, there's this nice comparison chart, and it has a citrus taste (although I confess it had an aftertaste), and...

...Wait a minute...

...Oops, I seem to have forgotten one of the benefits of Zipfizz. I guess I just missed it because it was at the top of the front page of the handout. Zipfizz advertises itself as the Energy Drink Mix With a B-12 Blast!

So, how much B-12 does Zipfizz contain? Well, it has 2500 mcg of this vitamin. This exceeds the percent daily value for this vitamin by a bit.

No, it doesn't have 150% of the DV for vitamin B-12.

No, it doesn't have 800% of the DV for vitamin B-12.

It has 41,667% of the DV. That's a nice chunk of vitamin B-12, and presumably helps guard against deficiency of that important vitamin:

Adequate amounts of vitamin B12 are needed to produce red blood cells and to maintain a healthy nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products such as meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, and eggs. Most people who eat meat are not likely to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency unless their bodies cannot absorb it from food. There is normally enough vitamin B12 stored in a person's liver to last a year or more, even if the person does not eat any foods that contain the vitamin during that time. Strict vegetarians (vegans) who do not eat milk, cheese, or eggs, and babies born to women who are strict vegetarians, are at increased risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency and should take a supplement containing vitamin B12....

You can take a test to measure the amount of vitamin B12 in your body. As mentioned above, low levels are not good:

Low levels of vitamin B12 can indicate the presence of pernicious anemia, problems of the intestine that prevent the absorption of vitamin B12, hyperthyroidism, or folic acid deficiency anemia.

Low levels of vitamin B12 may occur following surgical removal of part or all of the stomach (gastrectomy), gastric bypass surgery, or gastric stapling surgery, or following surgery to remove the part of the small intestine where vitamin B12 is absorbed (terminal ileum)....

Rarely, low levels may indicate a diet that does not provide enough vitamin B12.

Obviously, the test can also diagnose elevated levels - and presumably if you drink Zipfizz continuously, your B12 levels may be a bit elevated:

Elevated levels of vitamin B12 can occur in liver disease (such as cirrhosis or hepatitis) and some types of leukemia. However, the vitamin B12 test is not used to diagnose these disorders.
High levels may also indicate large amounts of vitamin B12 in the diet, which seldom causes problems.

I continued to research the web to see what happens if you take large doses of vitamin B12:

Recommended daily amount: 1 microgram.

Poisoning: no danger as the vitamin dissolves in water, so excess is excreted in the urine.

Well, there's a record of one person who thought that a vitamin B12 overdose had taken place. The person was corrected:

Date: November 22, 1999
duuuuudde.....i'm so jacked up on b12 right now, you don't even know. I had this drink perpetrating as a "smart drink" with 4000% of my b12 for the day and I am feeling the effects of the caffeine and b12 and i am so hyperandi am losing the abiltiay a to tipe...........

From: don@nutritionfarm.com (Don Jessup, President of The Nutrition Farm®)
Date: December 4, 1999
Thank you for your comment, however, we do not believe that what you are experiencing is a result of the vitamin B12 that you consumed, but more likely the caffeine. Our Folate Plus™ contains 3333% of the RDA for vitamin B12 per tablet, and I take two at a time every day. It has absolutely no effect on my energy level.

Vitamin B12 is very poorly absorbed by the body. This is why we include so much in our product so that sufficient amounts will be available for utilization by the all of our cells.

So, as of 1999, the Folate Plus product only had a mere 3,333% of the RDA for vitamin B12. Wimpy...

Can't fault the objectivity in this posting. I haven't found anything that says Zipfizz is harmful -- if you can tolerate a bit of caffeine.
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